One day the king told a yellow bandana wearing man – who happened to be named Dary – that he must retrieve the Dragon’s Horn, and that he would be allowed to marry the princess if he succeeded. That seemed to be more than enough motivation for Dary – at least once the king first promised she was really pretty – and so, gun in hand, he set off in search of the Dragon’s Horn. Thusly begins the setup to Legend Dary: Classic (out now, $0.99), the latest in a long line of mobile games designed by the one man app development studio known as ParkPill.
There are three pillars to what makes a great side scrolling experience become a reality on virtually any device, and one of those elements happens to be rock-solid controls that never fail. I am happy to report that Legend Dary: Classic – despite its use of virtual face buttons – certainly has this pillar tackled, which is especially important when you take into account the second important factor. Most people would also generally agree that any title lacking some form of challenge is not worth playing (sandbox games such as Minecraft being the exception), and Legend Dary has properly covered its bases here as well.
With a left and right button on the screen’s lower left-hand side, and B and A buttons on the lower-right, Dary’s adventures control quite similarly to the original Super Mario Bros (except that Dary doesn’t jump on his foes). While the movement – jumping – and shooting controls all end up feeling perfectly natural, the fact that players occasionally have to swipe up/down on the screen’s middle does feel somewhat odd. Thankfully these two options – which are only used to either hop down through certain platforms, or to leap out of vehicles – are very seldomly needed, and never under situations of duress.
Via these controls Dary will run about – jump on platforms, both fixed and moving – and attempt to find the exit key to each stage, all while shooting every unruly opponent he comes across. Littered across each stage – and also dropped whenever a monster is defeated – will be coins that Dary can save up, and then eventually spend to upgrade his stats at any point during a level. The options include making Dary’s gun do more damage, increasing the firing speed of his weapon, and even buying alternate outfits that further boost his two main stats in various ways.
While you can IAP buy extra gold more quickly, this isn’t necessary as one can easily max out Dary’s gun damage – and half of his firing speed – by the time you’ve reached the first boss (the firing speed upgrades are far more expensive).
Also hidden within each stage are three stars that can be collected if players lead Dary off the beaten path, yet – other than showing up on the stage selection screen – don’t really seem to do much of anything. These stars furthermore don’t actually have to be obtained all using the same life, with any stars previously collected remaining found after each and every grisly demise the Dary stumbles into. I guess this is for the best since the game is already hard enough without forcing completionists to grab all three stars on the same life, especially when there is no actual reward for doing so.
There furthermore exists – as I previously mentioned – vehicles that Dary can actually commandeer, including a four legged walking tank-thing and a free-moving hover board of sorts. The tank controls entirely like Dary himself does, complete with the ability to jump and everything, except that it has the power to march straight over spikes without the slightest bit of fear. The hover board instead functions quite a bit differently, with the levitating device receiving constant upwards thrust – picking up speed over time – so long as the jump button is held down.
So far this all probably sounds to be fantastic: an actually challenging original platforming game on touch screen devices, with both solid controls and vehicle segments to break things up. However, a proper platform jumping title – as I already mentioned much earlier – needs to have three things properly handled if it is ever going to be considered worthy of your time. There is unfortunately something very vital that Legend Dary: Classic has completely overlooked, the fact that – above all else – the activities contained within a game must actually be fun.
One of the core matters to this problem is that Dary’s gun is profoundly weak at the beginning of the game, and still not very useful even at its maximum level of damage output. Exacerbating this dilemma is that the weapon does entirely randomized RPG style damage, which – while occasionally delivering an enemy wasting critical shot – most commonly gives you really bad results. Although I might have been able to assume that the low damage was merely a result of not having the firing speed maxed out, watching the tank’s high speed machine guns take forever to knock down a single ogre was quite depressing.
This is especially annoying since most of the enemies will either be trying to run into Dary at high velocity, or returning fire from a strategic position of frustrating relative safety. Many people loved the old Contra games not just because they were challenging, but also because they made everyone feel as if they were a veritable one man army of destruction. Except for the lucky few times that you actually garner a random critical hit, the long process to destroy an opponent in Legend Dary will usually only have the effect of making the player feel impotent.
Case in point: The first boss fight is comprised of nothing but an armored opponent running back and forth in a straight line, with you directing Dary to endlessly jump over the fiend while slowly whittling down his unnecessarily massive health bar.
Between the enemies that often shoot and/or run into Dary – all while surviving an entire bullet barrage – and the laser beam death traps that need pixel-precise placement to evade, the levels in Legend Dary: Classic quickly become extremely annoying to finish. So – to furthermore add insult to injury – the game will also often crash the exact moment you finish a stage, forcing you to replay the same level over again for no good reason at all (yet somehow remembering all of the coins and stars you collected). It will take more than a little restraint to not simply delete the game when this happens multiple times at the end of the same level, especially when its a stage you’re having trouble finishing even once.
But perhaps the worst part of Legend Dary: Classic is what I have saved for last: the singular twenty second loop that is the only song you’ll hear on any stage whatsoever, boss fights included, for the entire game. I actually thought the song was somewhat catchy when I first started this review, but after a long time spent dealing with every enemy wearing +5 plate mail – and the frustrating end of level crashes – I had discovered a profound hatred of this particular ditty. I don’t know why this song didn’t change in the latter parts of the game, as the scenery of Legend Dary certainly mixed things up after I put the first annoying boss out of Dary’s misery.
Speaking of the game’s pixel-art inspired graphics, they are actually quite nice – paying homage to the era when all videogame heroes were regularly assaulted by smiling animals – but ultimately do little to offset all the other problems.
While Legend Dary: Classic is definitely a very functional game, especially in light of being crafted by just one man, this ultimately does little to change the fact that it’s also somewhat boring. The sad fact is that there already exists many apps with less than stellar controls that are still far more enjoyable to play, and even iOS games that have both stellar controls and actually enjoyable gameplay to boot. While there’s a decent chance you wouldn’t be entirely upset with Legend Dary – per se – the list of superior options available is already quite vast, and far more worthy of your game playing attention. Although Dary’s adventure might become more worthwhile if the enemies ever received a wholesale reduction to their massive health, and the aggressive end of level crashing issue was also resolved.
iFanzine Verdict: Legend Dary is an original platform jumping game for iDevices that has both solid controls and a real oomph to its challenge, unfortunately it is also currently mind numbingly bland. Between repeatedly shooting enemies that can take near endless damage – constantly have to redo stages thanks to crashes – and suffering under a short twenty second audio loop that you will learn to hate, the fact that the game controls impeccably will begin to mean very little. Although far from a truly bad game, there are simply too many superior platforming options out there – some of them even with controls just as solid – for anyone to ever want to spend their time here. Even so – just in case there’s ever a future update that resolves the aggressive crashing, and excessive enemy health issues – it may still be worth keeping an eye on Legend Dary.